Pushing away the sudden surge of disloyalty at the thought, he jumped down from Buckbeak, and joined his father at the door of the cell.
“Sirius?” He called, motioning for his father to hang back. “It’s me, Harry. Stand back, we’re going to get you out.”
Instead of the blasting spell that Harry had assumed she would use, Hermione waved her wand in a very familiar motion. “Alohomora.” The door swung open silently. “Wizards depend way too much on whether or not their prisoners have a wand.” She tsked, shaking her head.
James was the first one inside. “Dammit! They weren’t worried about his escaping, because they beat him. No, Hermione, stay outside with Buckbeak. Harry, at the door, but no further.”
“Harry? Is that you, or a figment of my imagination?” Sirius murmured, from his prone position on the floor. “You look so much like your father…”
“It’s me, Padfoot.” James said gently, even as he moved steadily, assessing the amount of damage done. “I’m back. Right now, tell me what happened. Pettigrew betrayed us?”
Sirius bark-laughed hoarsely. “I’m about to be rescued, not that there’s much to rescue anymore, and I’ve officially gone ‘round the twist, because my ghosts are talking back to me. Still, I’ll play along. Yeah, Jamie. Wormtail and I switched Secret Keepers. Double blind. I was the obvious choice, so I could draw the fire away from you and your family. They could’ve tortured me, and I wouldn’t have – couldn’t have – betrayed you, by blood and magic. Not even Dumbledore knew.”
“Wormtail was the spy in the Order.”
“One of ‘em, yeah. Still is a traitor. Tried to kill him and missed. Was framed. Saw him in the newspaper, living with the Weasleys. Don’t know if they were stupid or blind, not wondering about a 12 year old garden rat with a toe missing.”
Harry started to defend his friend but subsided at James’s head shake.
“I promise that I will find him and kill him for you, Siri. Marauder’s oath.” James said, his voice harsh with tears and fury as he smoothed the matted hair off of his friend’s forehead. “It’s okay, Padfoot. It’s just a sleeping spell. I’m going to get you out of here and someplace safe. Sleep, Siri.”
Sirius abruptly went dangerously still. James immediately leaned forward, placing his ear first at Sirius’s mouth and then on his chest, as his fingers searched for and finally found the faint, fluttering pulse.
“No!” Harry cried, lunging forward. James caught him before he got too close, using his larger body to shield the boy. “It’s not fair! Why would they do that? They nearly killed him! He was fine the first time, before Hermione and I used the Time-Turner…”
“Easy, son.” James soothed, holding on as the teen railed and wept. “He’s fine. He’s still breathing, I promise you.”
Hermione crept over to where they were standing, and Harry didn’t hesitate to turn to her as she gently touched his shoulder.
“Harry, we don’t know how things played out.” She murmured, as he sobbed silently into her shoulder. “All Dumbledore said was that Sirius was in the North Tower. I don’t think even he knew what would happen…I don’t think he would’ve encouraged us to go through with all of this if he had known…”